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OK Congressional delegation, constituents, address missile strikes against Syria

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U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Choctaw) is a member of Congress's "Warrior Caucus" and had a mixed reaction to Pres. Trump's strikes against targets in Syria.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma’s Congressional members responded to Trump’s decision to order U.S. military strikes against the Syrian regime in response to the deadly chemical attack this week, with most applauding the action.

The U.S. launched nearly 60 cruise missiles at various locations around the Shayrat airfield, including hangars and fuel storage areas. According to American officials, the base was believed to be used by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to drop chemical weapons that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma City) released a statement on the U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria, saying the international community should join with the U.S. to demand the removal of Assad.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford. (RDR file photo)

“Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless tyrant who kills his own people and breeds terrorism throughout the Middle East. The latest chemical attack on innocent people is another chapter in a tragic pattern that has gone on for far too long,” Lankford said in the statement.

“No one should expect the United States to ignore a dictator that commits war crimes and uses chemical weapons against his own people. Russia assured the international community that Syria was free of chemical weapons, but the Russian promises have proved false and they have demonstrated their inability or unwillingness to restrain Assad. It's time for the international community to join the United States and demand that Assad step down and allow the refugees scattered around the globe to return to their homes and be able to pursue peace.”

On Tuesday, Lankford condemned the chemical attack in Syria. Lankford serves on the Senate Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees.

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Tulsa) echoed Lankford’s statements.

“The immediate and proportional airstrike against the Syrian’s Shayrat Airfield was a justified and appropriate response to the Assad regime’s indiscriminate and heinous chemical attack on Syrian civilians,” Inhofe stated. “Through this strike, President Trump signaled to Assad, Russia and the rest of the world that egregious violations of international law and norms of behavior will not go unanswered by the new administration. The United States, under the Trump administration, will play an emboldened leadership role worldwide; the days where our enemies don’t fear us and our allies don’t trust us are over.

“The world is as dangerous now as at any time in my lifetime and the complex situation in Syria highlights that danger. These strikes underscore the requirement to immediately begin to repair the damage the Obama administration did by slashing military budgets and gutting military readiness, weakening the position of the U.S. globally. We must rebuild our military and national security so that we may achieve peace through strength. I applaud the president for his action.”

Congressman Tom Cole, (R-Moore), said Trump’s decision to act swiftly on Syria was “just and decisive.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore) talks to fellow Republicans in 2014. (Tim Farley / Red Dirt Report)

“I applaud him for taking action against the atrocities brought about by the Assad regime,” Cole said in a statement.

“Moving forward, the President should bring to Congress a clear and comprehensive strategy to protect American interests, deter reprehensible acts, and eliminate jihadi forces that are operating and destabilizing our regional allies. In doing so, Congress should have a robust debate and provide the President with the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.”

“For the past sixteen years the United States military has been engaged in several conflicts, primarily, but not exclusively, in the Middle East,”continued Cole. “It’s not an exaggeration to say the United States has been in a state of war since the attacks of September 11. And yet, we have been trying to combat growing threats of new kinds of terrorism worldwide without a formal authorization of military force since 2003. With the horrendous war crimes committed by Assad on his own people, this debate is needed now more than ever.”

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) and Republican Rep. Steve Russell, (R-Choctaw) bi-partisan leaders of the Warrior Caucus, say they “can’t stand by in silence as dictators murder with chemical weapons,” though “military action without clear goals and objectives gets us nowhere.”

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine did not appear to have made a statement regarding the strike on Syria, nor did Republican Congressmen Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne, Okla.) nor Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville).


Peace House member Nathaniel Batchelder holds anti-war sign in Aug. 2013, when the U.S. threatened to attack Syria. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Locally, citizens in Oklahoma weighed in with their thoughts. Kylie Steeley of Norman felt the air strike was justified.

“After talking to a coworker today, I am 100 percent for it. If a government is using chemical warfare on their own citizens, someone has to step in a stop it,” she said.

James Aaron Woods of Oklahoma City said he hoped the use of force by the U.S. would curb the violence happening there.

“I hate the use of force. I also hate seeing men, women and children being murdered,” Woods said. “Sometimes when dealing with evil the only course of action is force. My hope is that this use of force is able to curb the violence that is happening. If this action is met with a violent reaction I hope that we counter to show our resolve and commitment to ending the atrocities that are happening to the people over there.”

Burke McCrory of Oklahoma City also supported the action.

“I am 100 percent behind our president. I think what he did showed decisive leadership for an act of utter genocide against the Syrian people,” said McCrory. “His quick action against the Syrian air base that launched the chemical weapons attacks sent a signal that the United States and the world will no longer tolerate this type of rogue nation behavior.”

Others felt the attack was a show of hypocrisy from the same people that disavowed Obama’s efforts to step in to Syria.

“This is the false flag the conservative nut jobs always called out,” said Joseph Barranco of Tulsa. “Assad is winning. With Russia’s help, he is trouncing the opposition and has taken the 90 percent of the country back under his control, so it is therefore beyond belief that he would have ordered this attack. It is a proven GOP tactic to get outraged and lob some bombs when you are suffering from low polls and defeats in politics.”

“Trump is now saying how he is caring for the very people that he banned from coming to the U.S. for their own safety,” said Peter Crandall Polk. “This also reverses the criticism he had of Obama retaliating against WMD attacks when Obama was president.”

David Stewart of Guthrie said he still felt that America should not involve itself in Syria.

“There is no justification to get involved in someone else’s civil war halfway around the world,” Stewart said. “When people wonder what causes terrorists and foreigners to want to kill Americans, I point to this and other instances when we bomb and drone strike countries where we have no business getting involved.”

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Heide Brandes

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